LoganLiffick (Frontend Developer & Product Designer  at Outerbase)

Logan Liffick is a design engineer with Outerbase building good tools for good people, with good people.

Tampa, United States • May 9, 2024

What led you into design?

I can’t think of a time growing up when I wasn’t drawing. Back then —the early 2000s, inspiration was everywhere. We were living in the golden age of Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, the early days of 3D console games, and everyone was trading Pokemon cards. It was a great time to be a kid.

By high school, I knew I wanted to pursue art professionally. I had my eyes set on the game design program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, offering a sunny departure from my gray-sky Ohio upbringing. When I arrived, I realized game design wasn't what I was looking for and ended up switching majors, quickly falling in love with graphic design. In doing so, I came to realize just how much graphic design I actually did growing up. I designed my own trading cards, and posters, and even laid out a few comic book panels —creations that my mom still cherishes to this day.

I never specialized too heavily, I tend to enjoy learning and like a lot of what this profession has to offer. However, I did find a love for animated mediums. More specifically, interaction design. This led to designing and animating a lot of interactive experiences in the early days, which often resulted in frustration when handing off work to engineers and seeing the result. So I learned front-end out of spite. Little did I know just how much I'd enjoy it, and now I work as both a designer and engineer.

And that's how I got here. I consider myself fortunate to have found a career that’s allowed me to explore and experience as much as I have in such a short amount of time.

What does a typical day look like?

Like most others, I work remotely, so I skip the commute and wake up an hour or so before the workday starts. After a nice cold shower to stimulate the mind, I feed our dog, brew some coffee V60 drip style, and arrive at my desk to get started for the day.

I rarely find monotony in my day-to-day work. Generally, I like to set focus times for the mornings when I know I’m most dialled in and save meetings or collaborative sessions for the afternoon as I mellow out.

After work, I like to clear out my head by lifting weights or running.

What's your workstation setup?

Where do you go to get inspired?

I take a lot of inspiration from video games. When your primary objective is creating delightful experiences, you end up with unique design patterns —something more tech companies should lean into, in my opinion. I feel there’s immense value in “fun” as a feature.

A few of my favorite games: Legend of Zelda and the Wind Waker, Supergiant’s Pyre, Hyper Light Drifter, and OlliOlli World.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

Work Louder's Figma Creator Micro is one of the coolest pieces of hardware I've seen. The attention to detail is immaculate and it reminds me of how fun computer hardware used to be.

I'm here for it.

Nintendo Switch

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

I'm currently working on a lot of brand and product at Outerbase. It's been a ton of fun getting to explore and build with a subtle tone and monochromatic palette. It's really turning into something unique.

I served as Director of Product and Design with Makelog for just under a year, 2 years total counting my work as a contractor. In that time, I rebuilt the brand from scratch. For the first time really, a brand was 100% mine. Without any real restraints, I ended up exploring a ton of different directions before finally landing on the 70's summer-inspired look.

Makelog brand

Hacktoberfest 2022 was a bit of a dream project, if we’re being honest. I’ve followed the event since I started coding. It was an honor taking the reins on the 9th annual iteration. I designed the brand, swag, and co-built the site with my good friend Matt Cowley.

Hacktoberfest site
Hacktoberfest shirt

From 2021 to mid-2023, I led efforts to refine DigitalOcean's brand. I consider myself lucky to have played a part in strengthening the bond between DigitalOcean and its developer audience, and keeping with the "fun" as they transitioned from the private sector to a fully-fledged public company.

I dabbled in a bit of everything, from creating/implementing the marketing site design system to running visual direction on the 2022 SF / NYC / London billboard campaign, to a few stints improving UX flows on the product team.

I am forever grateful for my team, including Sam Ramos, Rajiv Ramakabir, Michelle Chan Wah, and Evan Huwa.

DigitalOcean site
DigitalOcean site

Additionally, I've built a few small dev libraries on the side.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

Products, big and small, take enormous efforts to get right and Outerbase is no exception. Working at the crux between product, engineering, and brand I have a lot of unique responsibilities ensuring the 3 work together harmoniously.

I've been crafting this concept of "invisible brands" or "what exists between visuals, engineering, and experience" —something you won't see with your nose stuck in a Figma file. When you use your product, you begin to discover these microscopic pieces of your brand —similar to the effect tone has on how your words sound. It's all voice. And in this case: it's all brand.

How should a loading state look while a query is running? Is there enough context for the user to understand what's going on? Should it be more fun? Are we that type of company?

Do you need a tooltip here? How fast should tooltips populate? Are they too obtrusive and need a delay?

Should this sidebar drag? If it does, what should the handle look like? Does it need a hover state?

Using this approach helps answer all of those questions and you'll find yourself building up a very subjective system of "this feels right" and "this feels off" that you can reference, share, and build into your brand.

What music do you listen to while designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

We're entering an era of generalization in tech. Learn all that you can and keep your mind open to other disciplines. After all, everything is designed, right?

A valuable hack for those just getting started: work at an agency. It's a great way to experience a bit of everything while learning to work quickly and efficiently.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

I'm on Twitter at @logan_liffick, feel free to drop by my personal site as well.